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Southern delicacies

`The Best of Dakshin' - a food festival at Dakshin, ITC Kakatiya Sheraton, offers choicest fare of the South.

SOUTHERN SPREAD: Partake of these dishes.

THE SOUTH is invariably looked upon as a homogenous entity up north.

Most people are ignorant of the fact that there are regional variations in this geographical unit.

One look at `The Best of Dakshin' menu of the Dakshin restaurant of the ITC Kakatiya Sheraton Hotel and Towers will give you a glimpse of the varied cuisines of the South.

It is not just cuisine of each State but cuisine of each community as well which figures in the menu.

The restaurant has, over the last two years, worked on the concept of the community kitchen wherein the cuisines of communities have been showcased through food festivals.

Selecting the best of popular items from this series along with some of the choicest fare from the regular Dakshin menu, Chef Khantwal (Executive Chef) and Chef Chalapathi Rao (chef of Dakshin) have laid out a spread called `The Best of Dakshin'.

Well, the first sentence on the menu card says `Succumb to the South' and there is every chance of you doing so.

For there is such a large spread of authentic delicacies - veg and non-veg. Generally in a festival one does not come across as many as 47 items (including desserts).

If you missed out on the community kitchen fare then do not regret but do not miss this opportunity.

TRADITIONAL AMBIENCE: Treat yourself to varied cuisines.

Take your pick of dishes from the Saraswat, Moplah, Mudaliyar and Chettiyar cuisines besides of course a sampling from the main menu from the four southern states. It is ala carte fare.

One heartening fact is that the veggie can happily indulge for there is quite a bit of veg. stuff.

It is difficult to list all the 47 items here but perhaps one can pick up out a few.

Send the taste buds ticking by attacking popular Andhra specialities like royyala egaru (don't look at the price if you are a prawn lover), mirapakai kodi, chapa pulusu, kothmir kodi, ullipaya kara pulusu from Andhra; kozhi melagu curry (chicken cooked in a pepper gravy), kathrikai kara kozhambu (a spicy dish which goes well with rice) from TamilNadu; ambat (somewhat akin to kootu of TamilNadu) and kurliche dabdabe (crab meat) of the Saraswats; thakkali vattichathu (tomatoes in a `kurma'-like gravy) and erachi porichathu (lamb in traditional masala) from Moplah kitchen; meen varuval (pan-fried seer fish) and podalangai kootu (snake gourd and lentil) from Mudaliyar virundhu and the famous kola urandai kozhambu (meat dumplings in gravy) and vathal kozhambu (pungent curry of onions, garlic paste and sun-dried gooseberries - perfect accompaniment to rice). From Karnataka there is masa stew (lamb in gravy) and kadale gassi (black chick peas and potatoes) and Kerala offers meen moilee (fish in coconut milk), kai stew (vegetables in creamy coconut milk) and vendakkai mullakaihathu (ladyfinger in a gravy).

The cereal section has quite a bit - from appam, idiappam, puri, kal dosai to a variety of rice items.

The meal is certainly filling considering the variety. Thankfully there are just four desserts (madhuram) - elaneer payasam, badam halwa, paruppu pradhanam and cus cus payasam (poppy seeds payasam with sugar).

Remember the festival is on at Dakshin till March 2. But have your purse full or your credit card handy for the food will burn a hole in your pocket considering it is five-star.

But if you are a foodie never mind the price just indulge in the lip-smacking stuff and eat with your hands also drowning in the mellifluous music of the flute played by Nagore Babu. Bon Apetit!


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